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Was Harriet Beecher Stowe an Abolitionist

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by Pat Young, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    True enough, But, as noted by Lincoln, the system did force most southerners to act against whatever better natures they had, i.e., in the operation of slavery the white populations were forced to perform or allow, degrading things to be done to fellow human beings(and, IMO, most of them knew it, whether they admitted it or not)
     
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  3. SharonS

    SharonS Private

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    Before the Fugitive Slave Act the great majority of northern anti-slavery people supported, at least theoretically, colonization. Even Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet's brother, who became an abolitionist firebrand during the 1850's, thought colonization was the way to go. Garrison and a couple of others were outliers, although most of them..including the great Samuel May..were actually colonization supporters initially, moving to abolition sooner than the others.

    A law making every man a slavecatcher ignited the changeover, but I can't help also believe that common sense changed a few minds too. How on earth were you going to get three million (four million by 1860)people across the ocean in sailing ships? Couldn't happen.
     
  4. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Yes, you hit on an important point there. If anyone were to stop and think about it, the cost and logistics of colonizing all those slaves would have been absurdly prohibitive. This is part of the reason why Garrison denounced the plan as nothing more than an excuse to delay. I'm not sure that I'd characterize most Northerners as favoring colonization before 1850 though. I think it's more likely that they just didn't care one way or the other. As long as slavery stayed somewhere else, they didn't give much thought to either colonization or abolition. (That might have been different if they had been asked to pay the colonization bill though!)

    But as you noted, the Fugitive Slave Law changed things, and the entire decade of the 1850s saw more and more encroachments of the "Slave Power" into the North and the Western territories, to where the slavery issue became impossible to ignore any longer. Of course Mrs. Stowe played her part in raising that awareness as well.
     
  5. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Harriet lived on free-state Ohio's border with slave-state Kentucky, and both heard about and helped in many Underground Railroad escapes to freedom. Though her characters were her own creations, the stories and situations were all based on things she'd heard from real people.
     
  6. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    There's a lot of great information in the article, but Dr. Sinha reveals a certain bias with this passage:

    "[Stowe] feminizes Uncle Tom as a morally superior, Christ-like figure who is ennobled by his suffering." (emphasis mine)

    To say that being Christ-like means being effeminate tells me that Dr. Sinha has very different understandings than I do of Christ, Harriet Stowe, Uncle Tom, and masculinity.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  7. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    Legree has a moment of decision.... and he freely chooses evil. Stowe did well to portray this crucial moment. Legree's conscience, hardened by so many years of evil, awakened for a brief moment and made him conscious that he had a choice. We all get a choice, and we all have a conscience, though repeated bad choices may gradually deafen us to it. No matter how much suffering we have endured (Hitler was abused as a child), the choice is ultimately still ours as to which way we will go.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
  8. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Uncle Tom has been seen as a model of resistance.
     
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  9. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    It's magnificent! One of the greatest misfortunes of literary history is that so many people have never read this great novel because they mistakenly confuse it with the bowdlerized, bastardized mutations of it that became so popular in minstrel shows and other "entertainments." The original book is wonderful. Stowe is easily the equal of Dickens, in my opinion.
     
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  10. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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    In the book, he was a manly hero. It's a shame that Stowe was so new to book publishing at the time that she didn't know to establish copyright, so everybody under the sun took the name "Uncle Tom" and ran with it, making him out to be a character unrecognizable from the original, and in some cases, his 180-degree polar opposite.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2017
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  11. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Very true. I had a thread on that topic a while ago when NPR did a show on the misrepresentation of Uncle Tom.
     
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  12. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Yes, confusing? It's too easy, picking on one statement and do not mean to but it's glaring, is the thing. I wasn't sure it wasn't a little tongue-in-cheek on the topic of morally superior females?
     
  13. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    I think she's referring to 19th Century views of masculinity and femininity.
     
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  14. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    I am going to go back to her book The Slaves Cause to see what she has to say.
     
  15. civilken

    civilken 2nd Lieutenant

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    my understanding of her was that she was not originally an abolitionist but somewhere along the way she changed her mind and started believing in the idea of the abolitionists. I have not read a lot about her so it's possible I am not where hundred percent correct in my assumption but the story I read let me to believe this about her later in life..
     

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